More credit unions expected to acquire chartered banks amid consolidation pressure, M&A lawyer says

Michael Bell of Honigman specializes in credit-union acquisitions of banks as a business that looks robust in 2024

A deal lawyer who specializes in credit union acquisitions of small, chartered banks said he sees activity picking up again after a pause during the regional-bank crisis earlier this year.

Michael M. Bell, chair of the financial-institutions practice group at Detroit-based law firm Honigman LLP, said the sector has seen five credit union purchases for banks with assets of $150 million to $300 million announced in the past week, with his firm handling three of them.

“We just had a sensational week and it shows the increased pace of deals through 2023 and then gasoline gets thrown on the fire in 2024 — it could be more intense,” Bell told MarketWatch.

Bell and his team at Honigman have been closing more than 10 but less than 20 deals in recent years. But Bell said he sees more than 20 in the pipeline for 2024 if the economy takes a soft landing, as many predict. The firm typically works on more than 100 prospective deals per year but only about a fifth of them come to final fruition.


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